Irving Park

Old Irving Park Brewery Braces For Challenges With Winter Approaching

"I think we're worried, but we're definitely optimistic because we are making the right moves," said one of the owners of ERIS Brewery and Cider House

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Some restaurants in Chicago are making changes to their outdoor dining ahead of the winter months. The move comes as Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a stay-at-home advisory urging Chicagoans to stay home for the next three weeks and to only leave for essential businesses.

Michelle Foik and her staff at ERIS Brewery and Cider House in Chicago’s Old Irving Park neighborhood watched as the mayor made the announcement Thursday afternoon.  

“We knew something like this might happen,” Foik said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen this fast, but we understand and we will pivot to go along with whatever she throws our way.”

Foik and her managing partner, Katy Pizza, invested tens of thousands of dollars in getting six infrared heaters installed in the patio area prior to the announcement.

“These heaters are going to provide a lot more warmth and a better atmosphere for our guests and for our staff,” Foik said.

Customers, like Rita Hess, noticed the difference while sitting underneath the pergola, which was installed over the summer.

“I thought it was the sun when we sat down so it definitely feels warm,” Hess said. “It feels good.”

Hess stopped by for lunch with her fiancé and his friend.

“I love patios and stuff during the summer so it’s definitely something new to look forward during the winter,” Hess said.

Foik and her managing partner are just bracing for the winter months and the challenges that lie ahead.

“A lot of our staff already knows there might be a chance that when it snows they won’t have a job or a shift that night,” Foik said.

Foik said her team is doing their best to survive during the pandemic. They have no idea when indoor dining restrictions will be lifted.

“We’re going to provide a safe environment that allows everyone to feel comfortable under the COVID restrictions,” Foik said.

Foik knows it’s not easy being a business owner during a pandemic. Her brewery is looking at other revenue options, like delivery, take out and catering, to stay afloat.

“We want our business to thrive but we also know we have to be safe as long as she’s not closing us down,” Foik said. “I think that’s a good decision for now. Hopefully we’ll get that curve down and we’ll be able to reopen again for the winter. We need it.”

ERIS Brewery and Cider House is getting ready to launch its most beloved cider -- Van Van Mojo -- in a can. Foik and Pizza hope to have it released statewide by Thanksgiving, if not by December.

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